Apple, Foursquare Ditch Google Maps for OpenStreetMap


Is Google’s decision to charge sites or apps using Google Maps API for high volume usage beginning to backfire? Apple and Foursquare have both severed ties with Google Maps, instead opting to use a free alternative, OpenStreetMap.

When Apple’s launched the new iPhoto for iPhone and iPad, it became apparent that Google Maps was history. In its place, Apple is pulling its maps from OpenStreetMap, which was confirmed in this announcement on Thursday.

OpenStreetMap is a crowd-sourced global atlas, you could almost refer to it as the Wikipedia for geography. It’s all open sourced that gives design and flexibility to those who use its data.

The new iPhoto for iOS is using Apple’s own map tiles that are made from OpenStreetMap data (outside of the U.S. right now). The current version that Apple is using is a little dated (April 2010) so don’t expect the latest and greatest updates but I’m sure they will be sure to come in the near future.

Apple’s decision isn’t totally unexpected. Back in November, a job description revealed Apple was looking for Maps team engineers:

The iPhone has revolutionized the mobile industry and has changed people’s lives and we want to continue to do so. We want to take Maps to the next level, rethink how users use Maps and change the way people find things. We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way. We’ve only just started.

Since 2009 Apple has been buying up companies in the mapping space:

Apple isn’t the only tech company moving to OpenStreetMap. In an announcement on Feb. 29, check-in website Foursquare said that they are embracing MapBox as its new mapping partner:

Starting today, we’re embracing the OpenStreetMap movement, so all the maps you see when you go to will look a tiny bit different (we think the new ones are really pretty). Other than slightly different colors and buttons, though, foursquare is still the same site you know and love.

Foursquare initially began looking at a change due to the Google Maps API pricing ($4 for every 1,000 visitors past 25,000), but decided MapBox was the “perfect fit” because of its design flexibility and it being open source.

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